Library service through a post-COVID lens at ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition (Virtual)

For Immediate Release
Mon, 06/07/2021


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


CHICAGO – During the pandemic, libraries met the challenge of adapting services even when their physical doors were closed. Now that libraries across the country are reopening, they face new challenges and see fresh opportunities to serve their communities.

From June 23-29, during the 2021 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition, professionals in public, school and academic libraries will discuss a wide range of issues, including COVID’s devastating impact on communities of color; equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts in libraries; and the challenge of opening buildings and providing services, despite reduced budgets, staff layoffs, furloughs, and increased expenses due to the pandemic.

“COVID’s Uneven Impact on Communities,” from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Central Thursday, June 24, will examine the gaps in data and services impinging communities of color, as well as identify activities libraries can adopt to reverse the trend.

Laine Thielstrom, performing and native arts librarian at Colby College, will present “Community Voices: Librarians Involved in the Multimedia Gathering, Sharing or Preservation of Stories Lived in Their Own Neighborhoods, Towns, Cities, and Counties,” from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Central, on Friday, June 25.

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) will present the program “Racial Justice in Librarianship,” moderated by Nichelle M. Hayes, BCALA vice-president, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Central on Saturday, June 26.

Sessions will include “Libraries as Catalysts for Serving Diverse Communities.” Panelists, including Ozy Aloziem, equity, diversity, and inclusion manager at the Denver Public Library, will discuss how to develop a diverse and inclusive environment through recruitment, HR practices, and professional development activities, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Central, Friday, June 25.

Other sessions will include the “Going Forward from the Pandemic: Libraries as Entrepreneurial Hubs,” offered on-demand, which will focus on opportunities for virtual programming to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in the COVID-19 era.

Former President Barack Obama will appear at the Closing Session in a conversation with the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian and the first African American appointed to the role, Lonnie G. Bunch III. ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. will introduce the session.

Award-winning investigative journalist and developer of the 1619 Project Nikole Hannah-Jones; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson; Grammy-winning country singer, TV host, chef, and entrepreneur Trisha Yearwood; actor and author Stanley Tucci; and tennis legend Billie Jean King highlight an impressive roster of speakers.

Other featured speakers will include bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz; sociologist of education Dr. Eve L. Ewing; Indian American model, actress, and creator and host of Hulu's “Taste the Nation” Padma Lakshmi; author-illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal; author of the first picture book written by a DACA dreamer Areli Morales; writer, speaker, and lawyer Savala Nolan; original Freedom Rider Charles Person; classical ballet dancer Judy Tyrus; pianist, playwright, and composer Paul Novosel; and emergency physician and public health professor Dr. Leana Wen

This year's conference will offer more than 200 live and on-demand educational sessions, 300+ exhibitors, 25+ featured speakers, and more than 140 authors. Highlights include the News You Can Use series, interactive discussion groups, and programs featuring influential leaders. Attendees also will have access to a digital marketplace and 8 virtual presentation stages.

Stay in touch and get updates through the 2021 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition (Virtual) website and follow the hashtag #alaac21 and social media: InstagramALA Twitter, and ALA Facebook.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit